Which industries still use mercury?

Updated: Nov 05, 2018
  • Author: David A Olson, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Mercury is still found in many industries, including in battery, thermometer, and barometer manufacturing. Mercury can also be found in fungicides used in the agricultural industry. Before 1990, paints contained mercury as an antimildew agent. In medicine, mercury is used in dental amalgams and various antiseptic agents. (See Etiology and Prognosis.)

Mercury may also be contained in some cosmetics, such as skin-lightening products. One study measured international skin-lightening products for their mercury content, focusing on products available to US consumers either online or in stores. The products were screened for mercury content using a portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer. Of the 549 products tested, 6% contained mercury levels above 1000 ppm, and 45% contained mercury levels that exceeded 10,000 ppm. Of lightening products purchased in the United States, 3.3% were found to contain mercury in excess of 1000 ppm. According to the authors, the Food and Drug Administration limits the amount of mercury in most cosmetic products to 1 ppm. [5]

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